It is essential that any new levy system provides a stronger focus on upstream education and prevention of gambling harms, the Chief Executive Officer of Ygam has said.
Speaking on a panel at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier this week, Dr Jane Rigbye said preventative education must not be disregarded in the new system. She called for universal education to be adequately funded over the long term as an essential part of the public health response to gambling harms.
Dr Rigbye said “All too often we see preventative education being overlooked in the debate, or in some cases and more worryingly, work to increase awareness of treatment availability being used to demonstrate investment in prevention. Ygam argues that investment would be better off made upstream, so that less people need those treatment services in the first place.”
The panel included DCMS Minister Rt Hon. Stuart Andrew MP, Matthew Hickey, Chief Executive of Gordon Moody, Graham England, Chief Executive of ARA and Sarah Forshaw, Head of Service Development at Gordon Moody.
The panel agreed that the new levy must present equal opportunities for funding to avoid losing an experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled workforce in the third sector. On this, Dr Rigbye said: “There appears to be a perception from some that organisations working in the current system are not independent from industry funders. This misguided narrative must not influence the new infrastructure and processes. All organisations seeking funding should be measured on the quality, scalability, and impact of their services.”
In addition to this, Dr Rigbye said the levy should be ‘smart’, based on product risk. She insisted the new levy must recognise the distinction between research, education and treatment programmes and services, and therefore the distinct types of expertise and stakeholder networks required to deliver them.
Dr Rigbye also raised concerns about the instability that the ongoing consultation process is causing for charities in this sector. She said ‘Charities are discovering that the publication of the white paper has stemmed uncertainty. The lack of clarity around the levy means many donors are now reluctant to commit to funding until the consultation period is clearer, and the new system is established. During this period, there is a risk that services provided by organisations who rely on the current system could be disrupted or discontinued.”
Dr Rigbye will be participating in the next panel in the series organised by Gordon Moody at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool next week.